My wife and I were quite dismayed by the photo of the conductor of the Columbus Symphony waiting at the airport for what might complete his last trip to Columbus, and for the image of Columbus that will prevail if the City is not able to maintain its first class orchestra (although we commend the Dispatch for featuring this and other positive articles relating to the Symphony).
It seems that what is needed now is a sort of "emergency rescue fund" in three components, first to allow contributions to rescue this summer's Picnic with the Pops series; second to garner a fund to support a 2008 to 2009 regular season; and third and perhaps most importantly to initiate a fund for long term endowments of the orchestra and its various chairs.
We get the impression from friends (not orchestra members) that some donors are reluctant to make further substantial contributions because the management has not done a good job of managing and accounting for prior contributions. While we don't know if this is true, it certainly may be a perception that hinders some fund raising efforts. Could this be addressed by setting up one or more trust funds, independent of the Symphony's board of trustees and management, to administer the collection, use and accounting for these future donations. Would the Columbus Foundation be able and willing to set up designated use funds in this regard ? Would it be feasible to have one of the major accounting firms take responsibility for administering such fund(s) on a pro bono basis ?
We also need more of a "can do" attitude on the part of the Symphony Board and the full time manager it selects going forward. A manager who consciously or subconsciously regards the Symphony as a dinosaur not only denigrates the orchestra and its members, but reveals an attitude that perhaps the trustees should seriously call into question.
Contributions from small as well as large donors are needed. Are there opportunities for "naming rights", perhaps for each Picnic with the Pops concert ? Or contributions from supporters who might love to have a chamber music performance at their homes for their friends and associates ? Or other imaginative ideas ?
Columbus has invested, over the years we've been living here, in various expensive undertakings, including Ameriflora, professional sports teams and sports venues, and most recently in a new stadium for the Columbus Clippers -- a wonderful team, although still a farm team. Certainly the Symphony has proven that it deserves the same kind of support and investment. We consider it to be "major league" on the cultural scene. But even if it were a farm team like the Clippers, doesn't the community see the need for the same kind of dedicated support and investment ?
Paul J. Josenhans
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